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April 24, 2009

Late April is bringing a lot of travel for the Dwell crew. Sam and Jordan are in Milan at Salone del Mobile, Miyoko is headed to Houston tomorrow to report a story for our October issue, Aaron jets off to Switzerland in a few days for a tour of Swiss design...Those of us here in San Francisco are lamenting (or am I the only one?) the end of an epic heat wave and doing our travel via internet exploration. Here are some weekly finds from the editors and designers.

gerd arntz pictos

Sarah: Gerd Arntz Isotype Visual Dictionary + A Short Biography

I was drawn to these pictograms when I spotted them at ffffound. The link led me to a fascinating, inspiring site dedicated to the work of Gerd Arntz. Arntz was a German socialist artist and designer who lived from 1900-1988, working mostly in Vienna under the tutelage of Otto Neurath, where he developed a collection of 4000 pictograms (early infographics) that could be universal representations of industrial, demographic, political, and economic data. His brief biography is worth a read if you don't know about his work and the graphics are guaranteed to draw you in for a very long look. Awesome stuff.

Dakota: Last One Out, Please Turn on the Light: A survey of London's Remaining Professional Darkrooms

I spent my last year of high school in a makeshift dark room (a janitor's closet we hijacked without permission) learning basic photography largely by trial and error. I have fond memories of mixing chemicals, impatiently waiting for images to appear, and making so many mistakes. Richard Nicholson reflects on this same sentiment but on a professional level. These photographs are his response to the signs of a dying craft: Darkrooms closing their doors, film companies ceasing production, mom 'n' pop photo labs struggling to stay afloat. He has beautifully lit and captured these rooms as both personal and working spaces. "I have lit these often-gloomy spaces to reveal the beauty of the machinery; enlargers are masterpieces of industrial design," Nicholson says, "I miss the darkroom's ambience, the physicality of dodging and burning, the shaping of the light."

Brendan: VonKottwitz jewelry by Nina Stotler

This past week I found myself tucking into every store I could find in search for jewelry for my wife. We both love handmade jewelry, but honestly, there is lots of stuff out there I wouldn't buy for a secret santa gift. My friend, who knows my affinity for German typography and Bauhaus architecture, pointed me to VonKottwitz. The jewelry is beautiful and all handmade by Nina Stotler from her Brooklyn design studio. I was drawn particularly to the Industry Collection and walked away with The Multiple and The Bib, both beautifully showing off the nuts and bolts of craftsmanship.

scrabble hahn

Ashley: Some Typographic Treasures from Alistair Hall and Janno Hahn

I love this set of ephemera on Flickr from Alistair Hall, who also runs the blog We Made This. It's treasure trove of beautiful typographic design work. Another one that caught my eye was this Scrabble game by Janno Hahn, which has been modified by pasting found letters atop the original Scrabble pieces. A designer's dream Scrabble game! (You have to scroll through a slow Flash slideshow on Hahn's site to get to the Scrabble project (shown above), or you can see it where I found it, at thepostfamily.com

Aaron: The Caustic Cover Critic

This week I've fallen for The Caustic Cover Critic. Though he's not quite as withering as the name of his blog suggests, he does keep great tabs on the realm of book cover design. Ranging from mid-century Italian sci-fi to the latest from Penguin UK (their design outstrips Penguin US by an order of magnitude), the CCC dissects jacket cover trends, shows how the same book has been treated over time and in different places, and trains his gimlet eye on what's around the bend while proving that a blog should be judged by what it covers.

Miyoko: Afternoon Coffee with Flora Grubb

At Dwell, we're big fans of Flora Grubb (whose fantastic garden store and nursery in San Francisco, Flora Grubb Gardens, we showcased in our October 2007 issue and returned to for the location of our March 2009 Dwell Reports photo shoot). This week, Design*Sponge posted a great Q&A with Flora that really highlights her fun-loving, sustainability minded, sweet-as-a-peach personality--as well as revealing tidbits about her "death rock" high school days and the one environmentally unfriendly habits she hates giving up.

Nicole: The Redesign of the Trade Gothic Font Family

Trade Gothic was originally released in 1948, designed by Jackson Burke. It’s been a staple in the industry since. I’ve always been a fan...it’s clean and sturdy. This new redesign boasts the rethinking of details such as the letters’ terminals and stroke endings, as well as the fonts’ kerning. There are also new compressed widths and heavier weights. Can’t wait for the right project to test drive it on!

Isotype images from gerdarntz.org

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